Parenting in the best of times can be hard – parenting during a pandemic is intense!
“Putting your oxygen mask on first” is not a cliche, it’s a necessity to create a healthier you which directly results in a healthier child and family.
Join Krista Kotz, PhD, MPH and Roxanna Smith, MA for a free, one-hour webinar where we will share findings from brain science about how you can strengthen the mindful circuits in your brain to allow you to be more of the parent you want to be.
We will also discuss simple concrete ways to reduce your stress levels and create a healthier, more relaxed environment at home.
More than just a meditation class, you’ll get tools to apply “in the moment” when stress levels are high and resources are low.
After this webinar, we will be offering a 4-week online series that willdelve more deeply into the unique environmental challenges you face collectively as parents in Lamorinda, as well as your own individual childhood experiences that shape who you are as an adult and impact your parenting.
We’ll spend time helping you learn to identify and mitigate your triggers. Every class will feature techniques to apply at home, and opportunities to share with the group.
Both Krista and Roxanna live and work in this community. Krista raised and educated herchildren in Orinda. Roxanna raised and educated her children in Boulder, CO, a community with similar opportunities and challenges.
Our two arms together say everything. So different and yet similar. Here she is at 16, tender skin with battle scars. There I am, with my semi-colon tattoo I got when I didn’t know what else to do, how else to support my girl when she didn’t think she wanted to live. I just couldn’t believe the story was going to end this way! Spoiler Alert: The guy doesn’t get the girl in the end. But I do. Get the girl. At least for now. For a little more time. And I’ll settle for that.
When I brought Lili home from the hospital at three days old, I knew then that I didn’t have a clue about parenting. How was I going to keep this tiny human being alive? I’m embarrassed when I see these photos of her first day home. The first one is of me crying, looking like a child myself, holding her. The second photo is me, back in my hospital gown (that’s right, I changed BACK into my hospital gown even though I was at HOME) and got right into bed. I wished I could have stayed at the hospital, where the nurses knew what to do and I was supervised at all times.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I loved Lili. That was the first thing I said when the doctor placed her on my chest: “I love her.” I look back at the early years of raising her and I ache over the mistakes I made – some big, some smaller. But there were also shining moments too, where my natural instincts to nurture and protect and supply entertainment were present. Parenting has been a humbling experience to say the least. One that has broken my heart open and brought me to my knees many times over.Lili was just three days into her 15th year when her dad and I made the impossible decision to sign custody of her over to strangers. Before he signed on the dotted line, her dad looked up at me, hand shaking and asked “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” All I could say was “I don’t know.” But I knew that we couldn’t keep her safe anymore. Lili was clinically depressed and anxious and her self-harming behavior had become extremely dangerous, and possibly life-threatening.
The year leading up to this decision to send her away, and the first several months of her being gone, were the hardest time of my adult life. I fell apart. I would see friends at the grocery store and turned away to avoid conversation. I sobbed when friends posted pictures on Facebook of their daughters dressed up for homecoming, celebrating “normal” milestones that we weren’t having.
I couldn’t make sense of what was happening in my life and I certainly couldn’t control it, so I had to surrender. I didn’t do it readily or gracefully. In fact, I was a wee bit rebellious at first. I was advised to “do my work” by the therapists at the program Lili was in and let her do hers. I hated when they would say that! I was sad. I was grieving. My daughter was gone. I was angry. I didn’t want to do any “work”. And truth be told, I was fucking exhausted. I needed a break.
I spent 3 months in Santa Cruz on the beach. I went to yoga, I spent time with my other kids, and I started to “do my work.” Which meant excavating some old territory that I really would rather not have looked at, like my childhood and my marriage(s) and mistakes I made as a parent. As a mom, I’ve had to sit in the fire of my own guilt and shame around choices I’ve made, even as I understand that I was doing the best I could. Rough terrain. Although there were many days of darkness, my mantra became: “I trust the universe” because even though my life seemed tragic (to me), I wanted to believe, needed to believe, there was a greater reason for what was happening.
While Lili was learning more about herself and getting honest, I was taking a long look at my life and noticing what was and wasn’t working in it. She and I are both at turning points in our lives. After 20 months of hard-ass work, Lili is graduating from her program and coming home and my marriage is ending. My divorce is final next month. I’ve done this as consciously and kindly as possible and I’m proud of how Andy and I have both shown up, with a few bumps along the way, but mostly, with open hearts, love and respect.
When Anna Yarrow said she had some sessions open for her Spirit and Bone project, I was excited to have a photo representation of this potent time. The words “Spirit” and “Bone” are strong – and sinewy and bloody – kind of like the past couple of years. Gritty. And Lion hearted. The hero’s journey down into the abyss and back up again. I have grieved what I thought I knew, who I thought I was, what I thought the future held. I am more open to what actually IS now, and I look forward to welcoming my daughter home – who she has become, what she is showing up as and beginning this new chapter in my life as well.
Oh boy, this week is going to be tough. It’s taking me by surprise…Andy’s not surprised though. He called it when Lili went to Kindergarten 9 years ago (!)
I was complaining about how institutionalized the school seemed and how it was nothing like our awesome, Buddhist inspired preschool Alaya. Andy said that I would become just as active in this school as I had been at Alaya, that I would make friends, and that I would be boo-hooing when my time at Crest View was over. (A time which felt about one million years away, by the way.) I vehemently denied all of his predictions.
Fast forward to now. Lili is “graduating” from 8th grade and Baby Boy is completing 5th grade, and the time has come…one million years have passed, and it is the end of an era. For almost a decade I have been walking, biking and driving to Crest View. I have volunteered. I have fund-raised. I have combed hair for picture day. I’ve been a room mom. I’ve stuffed Friday Folders. I have made good friends. And last week, when I rode my bike over to Crest View before school to put a ‘thank you’ card in the office for Harlan’s teacher, and the principal was cranking Pink Floyd (who knew?) and the office ladies smiled at me and Lili’s kindergarten teacher from 9 years ago waved to me, I realized I was the world’s biggest liar. I am a wreck! I’m not ready for this!
I already know when I’m sitting at the 8th Grade Award Ceremony (that’s right, she’s getting an award) I will be making that awkward half smile face that signals to my kids that “Mom is trying not to cry but it’s not working because oh Geez, now she’s making these tortured half laugh/half cry sounds…look away and pretend you are not related because now she’s full on crying.” What can I say? I’m a cryer.
Then on Thursday, I will bike over to Lili’s 8th grade graduation and see a lot of kids that I’ve watched grow up since kindergarten walking across the stage looking like young men and women. I will remember the Halloween parties and the play dates and the class field trips when they were so much smaller. And I will cry. And I will be proud of the young lady that Lili has become, even if she is ignoring me because I am crying.
After the graduation, I will head directly over to Crest View for my final ever class party (how could this possibly be?) For 9 years I’ve been doing this. I’ll scoop ice cream and congratulate kiddos. Some of the other parents are in my shoes, this is their final year at this neighborhood school, and I’m guessing there will be tears…
I know the only constant is change. I also know that my kids are each ready for their new, bigger frontiers; I trust them and their journeys. Right now, I’m just saying goodbye to an era that I remember fondly and won’t happen again. There is something poignant and beautiful in being present to a moment you know is impermanent…a stage in life you will never get to do over. I loved living so close to school and being welcomed into the classroom, even if it was just to say ‘hello’ and give a hug. I loved that the teachers knew my kids and kept a close eye out for them. I loved being a mom to an elementary school kid. I already know that Middle School is the dark void re. parental involvement. I’m sure High School is even more so. I am feeling this milestone with a mixture of heavy heart and gratitude for getting this far. Grateful for the teachers and families that have been part of the ride. Thank you.